Molly use increases ‘across the board’
As use of the drug rises in Tampa contents worry law enforcement, health officials
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 13:10
When Trinidad James released the single “All Gold Everything” in December 2012, in which the hip-hop artist exclaims “Pop a molly, I’m sweatin,’” the song rose to the Top 10 on U.S. Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs and became the anthem for young party goers.
Yet the dangerous reality for the drug molly is not a party for local law enforcement and health officials.
The trend in mainstream music to promote the use of molly has had real-life consequences for college-age and inner-city youth in the Tampa Bay area. While molly grows in popularity in Tampa, the hidden dangers behind the non-descript white powder are beginning to be uncovered.
Sgt. Rich Mills, a spokesman for the Tampa Police Department’s Narcotics Unit, said the growth in references to the drug in mainstream music has paralleled the growth in the demand for the drug.
“My personal opinion, from what I’ve heard through other law enforcement agencies and people on the streets, is that one of the main things pushing this trend is the references in rap songs and rap music, which targets young people and has caused this influx,” he said.
“Molly,” short for molecule, was originally intended to be the pure, crystalized form of MDMA or ecstasy.
The drug produces feelings of extreme euphoria and causes the body to flood the brain with serotonin, much like MAOI anti-depressants. Mills said the most popular way the drug is bought and sold is in clear gel capsules.
Ybor City, Mills said, Tampa’s hub for clubs and bars and a regular destination for many USF students, has seen a surge in the drug’s popularity.
Mills said the Tampa Fire Department doesn’t keep exact numbers, but that they have reported an increase in the number of people being pulled out of clubs for exhaustion and overdoses due to molly.
“Narcotics street officers who are down in Ybor City on a regular basis, are seeing more molly and are seizing more molly on the streets and inside the clubs,” he said. “I think everybody across the board is seeing an increase in the seizures and use of the drug.”
In the late ’90s, the purer, crystalized form of the drug became more prevalent in the rave and club scenes, but in recent years has branched out to different social circles.
“We are starting to see it in different ethnicity groups now,” Mills said. “It’s not just the younger crowd and club drug scene anymore. It’s more across the board: in the inner city, in search warrant seizures and just regular searches.”
On the USF Tampa campus, University Police (UP) Public Information Officer Lt. Charlotte Domingo, said the drug doesn’t seem to be as popular based on arrest records.
UP reports only having seen six arrests related to the drug since 2007, but Ben, a student who said he was a former molly user and dealer, who requested to be identified by first name only for this article, said the arrest records aren’t reflective of how widespread he thinks the drug’s use really is among USF students.
“It can’t reflect the problem,” he said. “The caps don’t take up any space, it doesn’t smell and it’s extremely easy to keep it to yourself. I would go as far as to say that there are dozens of people on campus with the drug or are on the drug on any given night. The odds of getting caught are slim to none.”
Ben, who began attending USF in 2012, said he sold the drug to students on campus from February to May 2013.
During that period, Ben said he sold to students from many backgrounds, and said he could see molly’s popularity was spreading to students outside of the club scene.
“I would sell to people that were already heavily into drugs, but I also sold to many people who were doing it for the first time,” he said. “These were just people that had smoked a few times at parties who you wouldn’t normally think would want to do hard drugs.”
Ben also said he spent many nights in the clubs in Ybor City where he said the buying and selling of molly has become a staple of the club experience.
“In Tampa, the scene has definitely blown up in a big way,” he said. “...even on non-event days it’s completely packed full of people buying, selling and rolling… People will just go to an event and not know the DJs or the music, but they’ll just go there because they know everyone will be doing molly and partying and that’s just what they do.”